I’m not normally into sport, but yesterday’s men’s final at Wimbledon was pretty special. An entire nation ( ie the UK ) held it’s breath and hopes for Andy Murray…and for a moment perhaps, the blurred division between Scotland and the rest of the kingdom actually dissolved away. Once it became apparent that Federer was going to reign supreme, then I had to stop watching. I can’t stand the cruelty of defeat.
And it has to be said that no matter how glorious and victorious it is for the winner…my heart always goes out to the one who’s lost. I don’t know how people deal with it. After years and years of dedicated practice, to achieve the goal of becoming a world champion, getting so close, and yet so far. What do you do? How do you cope? I can’t even begin to imagine. The one thing that did emerge however, was the most loving sea of support for this young man, who everyone seemed to be championing, and that is something he can always feel great about. His tears were incredibly touching. They actually gave him tremendous dignity, grace and humanity. It somehow made me think of the following poem…

Vitai Lampada
("They Pass On The Torch of Life")
There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night —
Ten to make and the match to win —
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote —
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

The sand of the desert is sodden red, —
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind —
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)